‘The market is back,’ says DTNA customer experience chief

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Truck sales are not the only economic indicator to rebound since the early days of Covid-19. Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is seeing growth in everything from parts sales to repair orders.

“The market is back,” said Paul Romanaggi, chief CX (customer experience) officer, during a media briefing held on Wednesday.

Paul Romanaggi took on the role of chief CX (customer experience) officer in 2019. (File photo)

“We’re up at least 5% from where we were on parts sales and repair orders,” he said, offering an estimate of the activity. “Some days it’s much higher.”

Such measures hit “rock bottom” during the early days of the pandemic, but the levels are also up in year-over-year terms, he added.

So, too, has DTNA seen a return in the technicians who decided to take time away from the service bay until more was known about Covid-19. For its part, the company has introduced several new protective measures, including disinfecting vehicles.

“We lost productivity and we lost capacity during the depth of Covid, and we’re just now starting to see the return of the number of technicians that we had pre-Covid,” Romanaggi said.

It isn’t the only area where the OEM has seen improvements, though.

More than 60% of truck repairs are now turned around within 24 hours, and 45% are completed within the same day, thanks in part to a series of initiatives that fall under the recently introduced Customer Experience (CX) umbrella.

Daimler began to take a deeper dive into customer interactions last year, looking for ways to further improve factors such as uptime and customer satisfaction.

“The first (goal) was to bring faster speed and effectiveness, thoroughness, in solving our customers’ most immediate needs,” he said. “We weren’t bringing things together holistically for our customers.”

Using an extensive series of surveys, emails, and meetings of various councils, Daimler is looking to identify and initiate changes that will improve the support process.

It’s touching all areas of the organization, he said.

“Everybody needs to know they have a role and a responsibility in meeting, and exceeding, and achieving all the customers’ needs to build loyalty.”

Several of the early gains have focused on the service bay itself.

Sixteen U.S. and Canadian fleets who belong to a customer council are now participating in a program that sets preauthorized amounts for repairs. That has reduced the wait times to start jobs, Romanaggi said.

Other steps are looking to reduce the time that technicians spend beyond repair activities themselves.

“We brought big data analytics to Techlane,” he said as an example, referring to the way data such as fault codes and repair histories are being automatically analyzed to determine required repairs. The stories needed to justify warranty claims are largely prepopulated as well.

“We automated 75% of the warranty claim and/or the invoice,” Romanaggi said.

Increasingly, the OEM is even handling the warranty processes that fleets have traditionally had to undertake with individual suppliers.

Twenty-five employees within the company’s 80-member field service team have also been assigned to focus on the needs of the top 75 fleets, and serve as liaisons during various activities at a dealership level.

Each morning, fleet service managers receive a “truck down” report that describes when trucks arrived, the issues, the status, and which ones that need added attention because the process is lagging.

Meanwhile, a quality leadership team that includes general managers of business units from engineering to service departments also meets for 2-1/2 hours every two weeks to discuss processes, product development and more.

“We brought the organization much closer to the voice of the customer,” he said.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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